Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Guess I Never Really Thought About It.

In his recent blog post, The Guy on the Plane, Jeff Sabo recounts a recent conversation he had with a "naysayer" during a long flight across the continent. Instead of misdirecting or smiling/nodding, Jeff decided to engage when asked "those" questions (that we all dread). It's a poignant read and certainly worth a couple of minutes to scan through it. Here's my favourite part:

I asked him a question.

"You are defining success as monetary, and material, with college being necessary for success and good grades being necessary for college. Do you like that definition? If not, how would you define success in a perfect world?"

He paused for a long time. Several times he started to speak, then hesitated, looking out the window or down at his shoes. I could almost see his wheels turning as he struggled with a question which is critical to our happiness but rarely, if ever asked. Eventually he started to speak:

RBG: "I would want success to be measured on how happy I was, on how I spent my time, on my values and interests and passions. I would throw out this idea that we need the American dream, and probably redefine the dream entirely."

J, sensing an opening: "By that definition, are you successful?"

RBG, wistfully: "Of course not. I wasn't raised that way."

J: "Okay. And how are you raising your children?"

RBG: "Wow . . . the way I was raised, I guess."

J: "Why?"

RBG: "Well, I guess I never really thought about it."

I wanted to hug the poor guy. It was clear that he got a bit more than he bargained for, and that he had some things to go think about.